FAMU Signs Ceremony with U.S. Coast Guard to Bolster Training and Recruitment Efforts

November 17, 2023
President Robinson and USCG Rear Admiral Will E. Watson celebrate the signing of a partnership agreement on Veterans’ Day.
President Robinson and USCG Rear Admiral Will E. Watson celebrate the signing of a partnership agreement on Veterans’ Day.

Florida A&M University (FAMU) signed a partnership agreement with the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) to facilitate training and recruitment for USCG members.

In support of higher education, the USCG offers an elite scholarship, the College Student Pre-Commissioning Initiative Scholarship (CSPI), to students enrolled at Historically Black Colleges (HBCUs) and other Minority Serving Institutions (MSI).

The College Student Pre-Commissioning Initiative Scholarship is designed for high performing college sophomores and juniors who demonstrate academic and leadership excellence and desire to serve their country. The program is designed to help students chart their course through the power of education and service in the military, reduce student debt burden, achieve financial stability and health insurance while guaranteeing a job after graduation, according to the MOU.

During the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) signing ceremony in front of Lee Hall on on Veteran’s Day, Saturday, November 11, 2023, FAMU President Larry Robinson, Ph.D., said these kinds of partnerships help to address the financial challenges faced by many students while expanding their career opportunities.

“We really appreciate this opportunity to get more them out into the world and show the world what they can do,” said Robinson, who as a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) deputy admiinistrator worked alongside the USCG on the BP oil spill cleanup. While there have been other FAMU-USCG initiatives, Robinson was more optimistic about CSPI.

 “We have a much greater opportunity here to expose our young men and women to all the things the Coast Guard has to offer,” Robinson told the gathering, which included veterans such as Rattlers in Arms’ founder retired Lieutenant Colonel Rick Kinsey, who was instrumental in initiating the partnership.

U.S. Coast Guard Rear Admiral Will E. Watson addresses a gathering for the signing of an MOU between FAMU and his service branch.(photos: Credit: Glenn Beil)


Rear Admiral Will E. Watson, who serves as the director of Governmental and Public Affairs for the USCG, signed the MOU on behalf of the USCG.

“This is just an initial step toward what we expect will be a fruitful relationship going forward,” said Watson, who benefitted from the CSPI program at Xavier University in New Orleans. “We’re offering opportunity – from internships, externships to scholarships to employment. We’re offering opportunity. We know that the talent is here. Young professionals who are looking for an opportunity to make a mark, to make a difference in this world and we are here to say that ‘You can do that in the United States Coast Guard.’”

As part of the agreement, full-time students who are qualified and selected for the program will receive up to two years of tuition, books, and fees paid, a competitive monthly salary, medical benefits, and a host of other benefits. The current stipend is $3,500 per month.

Available career fields include marine safety, law enforcement, humanitarian and natural disaster response, engineering, communications, computer science and aviation. Graduates can also enter intelligence, human resources, international affairs, financial management, recruiting, and health and medical professions.

As a result of the MOU, FAMU will now be connected to five of the major branches of the military – the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and USCG.

During the ceremony, Military and Veterans Affairs Director Louis Dilbert credited Kinsey  and Vice President of Student Affairs William E. Hudson, Jr., Ph.D., for their role in helping to establish the partnership.

Kinsey and his Rattlers in Arms colleagues are members of the Rattler Battalion Alumni Association, which has donated more than $250,000 through a number of endowed ROTC scholarships.

At the football game last Saturday evening, Kinsey and other Rattler Battalion Leadership Legacy donors were recognized at Bragg Memorial Stadium’s Ken Riley Field for donating $68,000 for scholarships to the Army ROTC Program this year.